Medicine is a fascinating field of study that combines science and clinical learning. This means that you are able to apply scientific knowledge and concepts to real life care. If you have a curious mind and a strong sense of compassion and empathy, a career in medicine could be for you. 

In the UK, the medical degree is based around preparing for a career as a doctor in the National Health Service (NHS). The profession has a reputation for having immeasurably changed society for the better and as a result doctors are highly trusted by the public. Respect for others and an interest in and concern for their needs is essential.

Working as a doctor is intellectually stimulating, practically challenging and endlessly rewarding. However, practising medicine can be emotionally and physically demanding and is not suited to everyone. Make sure that medicine is right for you by checking out our resource pack talking to people that work in healthcare and looking for opportunities to see their work in action. 

During the early years of the course you will mainly be university based will focus on building your knowledge of applied life sciences, such as anatomy and physiology, and learn about disease processes as well as the major systems of the body. The latter years of the course will focus on developing your clinical skills. You will practise physical examinations and learn how to conduct consultations whilst exploring the major clinical specialties. Throughout the course, you will learn about medical ethics and the professionalism required to become a doctor. You will also develop essential skills such as communication and teamwork. 

Each medical school is slightly different in terms of their curriculum but all will lead to the same outcomes required by the General Medical Council. Graduates who wish to practise medicine in the UK then go on to apply to the Foundation Programme. This is a two-year training programme for newly qualified doctors.

A career in medicine provides the opportunity to pursue a wide range of interests and pathways. Click below to find out more about the different areas of medicine current students are keen to specialise in:

  • Katie - Trauma and Orthopaedics

    My name’s Katie and I’m in my final year of Medicine at the University of Bristol.

    Trauma and Orthopaedics deals with injuries/conditions affecting the muscle system and the bones. For example, if you break a bone you may need surgery. During the operation, the surgeon would arrange the parts of your broken bone back into place then fix the pieces together using some metal work and screws. This allows the bone to heal correctly so that you can get back to normal life as quickly as possible. Before the existence of surgery, people may have been permanently disabled after a childhood playground injury – something that is almost unthinkable in England in 2022. Fixing a bone can also be life-saving; breaking a large bone like the thigh bone or pelvis could cause a patient to bleed to death.

    This area of medicine might appeal to you if you enjoy problem solving and practical work. A senior surgeon once described his approach to me as – ‘I approach each operation the same way I approach each rock climb. Before I start, I study the patient’s x-rays the same way I’d study the wall. I plan each move and rehearse the steps in my head. By the time I’m operating it’s second nature. I’m simply following a route I already know well.’

    I enjoy this new challenge each day and get great satisfaction from helping patients get back to the things they love doing.

    As always in medicine, there are difficult moments, it can be high pressure and sometimes even with the best care we can’t restore a patient’s function or reduce their pain as effectively as we’d like. However, it’s an incredibly rewarding department to be in and I love the value it places on quality of life.

  • Ella - Anaesthetics

    My name is Ella. I’m a 3rd year Medical student at the University of Bristol, currently on placement at Southmead Hospital.

    I am interested in specialising in Anaesthetics. The word ‘anaesthesia’ means loss of sensation, and Anaesthetics uses medicines to alter a patient’s ability to sense pain. This is particularly useful during surgery, when surgeons might have to open a patient up to repair a problem. Before an operation, an Anaesthetist needs to decide whether to numb the area that is going to be operated on, called ‘local anaesthetic’, or to make the patient temporarily unconscious, called ‘general anaesthetic’. This decision relies on weighing up the risks and benefits of each.

    When patients are unconscious, Anaesthetists have to take control of their breathing because their brain activity isn’t active enough to maintain this under the medication they are given. The Anaesthetist will need to intubate them (put a tube into the patient’s airways) to keep oxygen flowing into their lungs and to their tissues.

    During my training, I would like to develop practical skills, such as intubation or spinal injections. I also want to develop my understanding of human physiology. ‘Physiology’ explains how the body functions to keep a living organism alive. This involves monitoring the patient and machines for signs showing their heart and lung function during an operation. This is crucial to keeping the patient alive and requires careful attention.

    I want to explore Anaesthetics because I enjoy supporting a patient through surgery, which might be a scary experience for them. This involves caring for them before, during and after the operation; you are by their side through the whole process. I also like the idea of minimising pain for the patient and this can be really rewarding when successfully done.

  • Manisha - Emergency Medicine

    I’m Manisha, a 3rd year Medical student at the University of Bristol and am currently on placement at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

    I’m interested in Emergency Medicine. This is where healthcare professionals carry out the immediate assessment and treatment of patients with serious and life-threatening illnesses and injuries. They are mainly based at the Accident and Emergency department.

    Emergency medicine interests me as it’s fast-paced and you see different patients each day with different conditions. From heart attacks to fractures, treating babies all the way to the very elderly. The work that you do from the moment the patient walks through the doors can have a big impact on their recovery.

    I think by specialising in Emergency Medicine, I would be developing my teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills. I like that it feels a bit like being a detective, you have to use problem-solving skills to work out what’s wrong and how to best treat the patient. You can get clues from how they’re presenting, what their blood tests show and what the scans reveal. By working together in a group with all the different members of a healthcare team you can use your different skills to help the patient get better.

    I watched the team work together when a patient came in after having a heart attack; you have to act quickly and stabilise the patient. The consultant took charge and coordinated the team, ensuring everyone knew what their role was. By listening to each other and remaining calm, the team were able to help the patient.

  • Olivia - Cardiology

    My name is Olivia and I’m a 4th Year Medical student at the University of Bristol.

    I started medical school set on pursuing Obstetrics and Gynaecology (helping women during and after pregnancy and with women’s reproductive health problems) or Paediatrics (working with children). I therefore did all my student choice modules and medical extra-curriculars in these fields.

    During year 3, we rotate between general medical specialities, one of which was Cardiology (medicine which helps people with heart and circulatory problems). I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I love how clinical placements expose you to specialities you may not have considered before!

    I find it fascinating how you can gauge heart conditions from an ECG (a graph of the electrical activity of the heart) and find interpreting ECGs a fun challenge. Lifestyle medicine (educating patients about healthy choices) is hugely important as prevention is often more cost effective and has better outcomes than cure.

    During my placement I enjoyed seeing patients undergo treatment to unblock clogged heart vessels or fix abnormal heart rhythms. The Cardiology ward was also a good place to practise taking bloods.

    If I choose to specialise in Cardiology, I will develop surgical skills, the skill of interpreting an ECG, and I will have to have a strong knowledge of cardiac medications. Working in Cardiology would develop my communication skills with patients and their families, and my ability to work in a team. I would also get involved with academic research to keep up to date with the best treatment options for patients.

  • Kieran - Intensive Care Medicine

    My name is Kieran and I am a 3rd Year Medical student at the University of Bristol. I am currently on placement at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

    I am considering a few specialities including Intensive Care medicine. Intensive Care doctors look after patients with the most complex needs in the hospital. Most patients will have problems with one or more organs, for example patients who can’t breathe for themselves or maintain their own blood pressure. Intensive Care doctors provide support to these patients by for example drugs to maintain their blood pressure or putting them on a mechanical ventilator. We take over the process of breathing for them to allow their body time to heal from trauma or surgery.


    I am really interested in this area because it’s a specialism that is evergrowing with brand new techniques always up and coming. An example of this is airway management. There are lots of new devices that allow easy insertion of breathing tubes into people’s windpipes which reduce the chances of complications occurring.


    Lots of trainees in this field talk about Intensive Care medicine being a very caring and supportive speciality. This is something that is particularly important to me as I know that the career will take its toll at times. It can be physically and mentally exhausting trying to treat the patient, but then also discussing with their family that their loved one may not survive can double the stress.


    I love the practical aspects of this speciality. There are lots of opportunities to put in airway devices, insert needle-guided pain relief directly to people’s nerves and inject into the spinal cord to deliver things like epidurals. I would love to develop my practical skills in medicine by carrying out some of these procedures as I really like the hands-on approach and believe that Intensive Care medicine can offer me that!

  • Adewale - GP

    Hello! My name is Adewale, and I am a 3rd year medical student at the University of Bristol currently on my clinical placement at Gloucester and Cheltenham teaching hospitals. Even though I’m still early on in my medical career journey, I have already begun to identify specialities that I am interested in. Of note, I have looked at becoming a general practitioner (GP).

    In essence, GPs are a crucial cog in delivering primary care. They treat a diverse range of patients, from new-born children to elderly patients and even whole families (hence why GP is also called family medicine). We’ve probably all encountered a GP and have had a range of different experiences, some positive and negative. From my experience, you tend to find the best GPs are the ones who are empathetic and can educate patients. Therefore, it’s so essential for GPs to have excellent communication skills and have a holistic view of Medicine, considering a variety of factors when treating patients.

    Since coming to Medical school, I have had various interests, particularly sport, technology, management and leadership. This led me down multiple fields, namely sports medicine, digital health, or an executive position in the NHS. While I’m still interested in those fields, I have been drawn to GP due to its opportunity to have a portfolio career.

    All this means is that you can practice medicine and have time to embark on other interests. So, if I wanted to work with patients in my surgery for two days a week, then work at a local football club or consult with a MedTech company another day and sit on medical boards for the remainder of the week, I could achieve this through doing General Practice.vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv